Presumably in closing swathes of garda stations, the garda management was attempting to optimise crime fighting capacity by substituting highly mobile garda patrol cars for immobile rural garda stations in place since the 19th century Royal Irish Constabulary on bicycles. Statistics released about a decade ago showed that the dispersion of gardai by county was often poorly related to population change, thanks to the bias in favour of staffing the old established stations.
Naturally, the locals living within a few miles of closed rural stations were concerned by the loss of the constant visible presence of the gardai in areas hit by increasing rural crime, especially crimes committed by gangs exploiting the expanded motorway networks. The response time of gardai to emergency calls has likely increased in remote rural areas, to the point that in many cases a thirty minutes response gives criminals time for a planned escape.
The solution to slow response times isn't Fianna Fail's proposal for reopening labour intensive garda stations to help selected locals as in the dubious reopening of the station in Minister Shane Ross's constituency, however; Garda labour isn't cheap at an average for the force of 68,000 euro a year plus a pension entitlement costing about 40,000 per year served , so each garda costs as much as half a dozen McJobs workers.
The solution is to increase the number of patrol cars which with hand held computers can operate as efficiently as a garda station. To reassure the public, patrol cars along with California style "cycle cops" on bicycles should make their presence felt in selected locations of closed garda stations. The relatively mild Irish climate is suited to gardai on bicycles who could cover more ground than on foot patrols and could interact with the people on their routes more easily than in patrol cars.